By Fan Bi
Choosing help desk software usually portends good things for your business. But amidst the excitement of a growing company, some entrepreneurs fail to perform the proper due diligence for their help desk software comparison. They pull the trigger on the first option they see within their budget with certain features that sound enticing. Their line of logic usually follows that they’re just looking for a placeholder for now, and can find a more permanent solution when they have a larger staff.
It’s easy to see why this reasoning is popular. Few small businesses think of help desk software as a mission-critical component for operations. However, it’s worth putting serious effort into your help desk software comparison: The platform you choose can significantly impact your productivity. The help desk software you implement allows your IT department to assist other departments and reduce delays, down time, and frustrations.
Price is obviously going to be an important factor, and you certainly don’t want to buy more than you can afford. But once you’ve outlined your budget, it’s a good idea to move beyond cost considerations and delve more deeply into what you’re hoping to get out of your help desk software, and which companies are best equipped to help you get it.
If your goal is to conduct a substantive help desk software search, then your first task should be to outline specific pain points this software is intended to alleviate. In the current market you have a multitude of choices, and vendors will try to draw you in with a compendium of fancy features that may not be applicable to your situation.
You should approach this decision as a long-term and mutually beneficial partnership. You don’t want to settle for a vendor who doesn’t look at it the same way. A partner that is worth doing business with will take some time to understand your company, then explain how their product can help your business specifically.
For instance, a tech startup may need to communicate using a variety of different platforms to gain access to an open help desk ticket. For this reason, it’s paramount for you to find software that operates as an integrated, multi-channel help desk so employees can continue conversations with the support team while switching between email, social media, Skype, or chat. If such a feature is integral to your choice, it wouldn’t make any sense to look into a product that lacks it, even though they may try to sell you hard with the statistics of their fast ticket turnaround times.
When beginning the process, create a help desk software comparison chart. Make sure it contains:
You can then include all of the vendor options within your budget, and immediately eliminate any that don’t offer all of your necessary features. Proceed from there to further narrow the field by comparing down-line attributes.
For many companies that need to purchase help desk software, this stage is only the beginning of a period of rapid growth. Needs can change dramatically during periods like this, so choosing software that can successfully be scaled to meet your operational needs without significant rebuilding is a key factor in your decision.
You’re not necessarily confined to your choice for the entire life of your business; there may come a time when you outgrow what your software is capable of, or your needs may evolve over time. But if you’re constantly hampered by a system that can’t keep pace with your workload, your productivity and cash flows are going to take serious hits at a time when you need both to be in optimal shape.
You may also want to peruse the guidelines set forth in the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) to plan your help desk software comparison. ITIL contains a series of conventional best practices in the field of IT management, related to Change Management, Configuration Management, Incident Management, Problem Management, and Release Management. Since many larger organizations adhere to ITIL guidelines, use them as a benchmark for choosing a software solution that will scale with your business. ITIL best practices may not always make sense for smaller companies, as they often lack the economies-of-scale that allow larger enterprises to operate efficiently, but they can still be a useful resource for startups that have visions of becoming the next Snapchat or Uber.
It doesn’t make sense to build every facet of your organization with a customer-centered view and then neglect to do so with your help desk software. It doesn’t matter if the software you choose will be used by internal employees, external customers, or both. You need to find a system that will actively make things easier every step of the way.
Ticket management is one of the crucial components of any well-designed help desk software platform. The interface of the ticket management process needs to be built in such a way that it will be simple for you and your employees to use, both when creating and updating help desk tickets. If the interface is confusing, your help desk software will create more problems than it solves.
Once you’ve found a solution with an intuitive user interface, look for reliability, efficiency, and versatility. Reliability is paramount: Users will be dissatisfied if their tickets get lost after they’ve taken the time to open one in the first place. You also need to consider the efficiency of the ticket management life cycle: Does this system make it easier for you and your team to serve your users? Finally, the ability to change how assignments are categorized and prioritized on the fly can make a big difference when you need to make adjustments depending upon the circumstances.
Most companies that frequently collect and store sensitive customer information understand how critical security concerns are when choosing a software solution. Hackers have more tools available than ever, and they are conducting attacks with increasing sophistication. As digital data proliferates, it only creates more attractive targets for hackers.
Where entrepreneurs tend to fall short is in dealing with data that doesn’t seem vulnerable on the surface. Even if your business won’t be using help desk software to transmit obviously private information such as financial data, Social Security Numbers, or identification numbers, it can still represent a big payday for cybercriminals. Names, passwords, addresses, and other information can be dangerous in the wrong hands. If the data in your help desk software will be frequently transmitted via email, or any other cloud-based medium, you should employ encryption techniques for additional security.
Above all, your help desk software is representative of your organization. If you select a platform that doesn’t emphasize data security efforts, then that reputation will seep into your business as well. Your customers won’t care about the source of a data breach if they are affected.
An effective help desk software comparison should include an examination of the platforms’ ability to handle performance metrics. Just like the other facets of your business, whether it’s marketing, operations, or customer service, any strategy is going to prove futile unless you are rigorously tracking results and comparing them as time goes on.
In relation to help desk software, the best programs allow you to quickly and easily pull performance data for tracking purposes. Ideally, they should present a myriad of ways to organize and categorize the data points; the ability to create graphs and charts to improve readability is an important feature as well. You already know how integral performance metrics are to the overall success of your company, and you shouldn’t expect anything less from your help desk software solution.
Every company must look at these factors when trying to find the right platform for its needs. Find a help desk software company that treats you more like a partner than just another account. When you find the right match, your employees and your bottom line will thank you.
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